Hidden Perspectives is proud to present Tom Reaney, the chair of our next LGBT and Faith Discussion Group- keep an eye out for more details on this in upcoming blogs. Below is Tom’s interview which really has the whole package! It has a truly honest and personal feel whilst also being entertaining. As well as getting to know a bit about Tom, this interview is also a spoiler of what promises to be a great LGBT and Faith Group Discussion session. Enjoy…
So my name is Tom Reaney, and I’m a database administrator at the University. Also, for the last five years I’ve been involved with establishing our LGBT Staff Network, acting as Chair for most of those five years. I’m a Sheffield Hallam graduate (but shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) and I’ve a keen interest in LGBT issues in our city. I’m Sheffield born and bred, so if I suddenly go really ‘northern’ mid-conversation, don’t worry – it’s just me!
How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives?
After watching Hidden Perspectives launch and grow last year, and seeing how the project had worked with our student LGBT group, I was keen to find out more how I and other LGBT staff might engage with the project as well. In all honesty, I was very naïve to start with as I wrongly thought the faith/religion aspect somehow excluded me as it is not something that is or has been strongly part of my life. How wrong could I be! I met up with the wonderful (AKA legendary) Katie Edwards who introduced me to what the project had done and was hoping to do in the future – she even spoke at one of our LGBT Staff Network meetings to tell us more about the project – and the rest, as they say, is history. I attended the first discussion group of 2014, which was led by one of our LGBT members of staff (and was thoroughly brilliant) which inspired me even more to lead a future discussion.
I’ve chosen the topic of ‘faith and family’ for the next session. Ultimately, in a lot of the work I do as a gay man at the University (and in the city), the most impact happens when conveying personal feelings and experiences. This is why I want use my personal experiences with religion within my family to open up a discussion about people’s different experiences and how, particularly in relation to upbringing and how we live our adult lives, this shapes and affects us (or doesn’t, as the case may be).
What do you hope people will take away from March’s session?
Hopefully, people will feel comfortable sharing their experiences, hearing other people’s stories, maybe finding things in common or learning how totally different families can be – perhaps the discussion might lead to a deeper understanding of our families and their relationship (or lack thereof) with sexuality and faith. Here’s hoping! I’m looking forward to it, as it’s already opened up discourse within my family – and I look forward to hearing other people’s experiences too.